More than four years after the crime, the trial has begun for Kyoto Animation arson suspect Shinji Aoba. Aoba read from a prepared statement that acknowledged his guilt: “I am positive that I did (what is written in the indictment). At the time, I thought I had no other choice, but I did not expect so many people would die.”
He had previously confessed as well. He continued, “I now think that I went overboard.”
36 people were murdered in the arson at Kyoto Animation. Many other people were injured, and this is being treated as attempted murder. Aoba, who apparently believed that Kyoto Animation plagiarized from his work (and pointed to a generic scene in a Kyoto Animation anime about buying food), had to be wheeled into the courthouse. He suffered serious burns in the arson. This led to him having to be treated for a long time before he was officially indicted in 2020.
While he now states he may have gone overboard, he did not offer any apologies for what he says he did.
His lawyers are arguing that he is not mentally competent. Aoba has received mental health evaluations, but it’s not clear what all the doctors found. However, these doctors are anticipated to take the stand at some point during the trial. If Aoba’s lawyers succeed in their defense of his mental incompetence, they could shield him from criminal punishment.
The prosecution, meanwhile, is pushing back on the defense’s claims. They say that the mass murder was simply “revenge driven by a misdirected grudge.”
The arson was the biggest mass murder in Japan since 1989, and possibly the biggest mass murder in the country since World War II.
If all goes according to plan, we’ll know the ruling on January 25, 2024.
Source: The Asahi Shimbun
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.